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Add Spring Colour With Containers in 5 Easy Steps

Containers overflowing with blooms are an easy and economical way to spruce up your landscape.

Containers overflowing with blooms
Flowers in a container

1. Start with a theme

Think like a painter composing a picture. Consider colour, shape and style. For instance, you might decide on plants in dark tones, chosen for their variety of textures and leaf shapes, to complement a modern Asian-influenced arrangement.

Don't stop at just flowers in a container. Good looking vegetable plants can be mixed with herbs for a container garden that's as good smelling and tasting as it is striking. Shrubs and perennials are great for year-round container interest. Other unique container themes include:

  • Window boxes with long, draping plants
  • Miniature perennials for a bonsai-like effect
  • Plants chosen to epitomize the season
Flowers in a container

2. Choose plants for maximum interest

Build your container garden starting with three different types of plants:

  • Tall, spiky plants in the centre of your planter for height and movement. Try ornamental grasses for a dramatic focal point.
  • Smaller foliage or shrub-like plants around the middle to fill in and add interest.
  • Vines or cascading plants that drape over the sides of the pot.

Group plants with the same sun and water requirements and give them room to grow. Read plant care descriptions to learn how large the plant will be at full maturity. To achieve a full look quickly, you can (within reason) crowd plants more closely in containers than in the garden.
Pansies

3. Be weather smart

In most areas of the country, early spring can bring changeable weather—cool one day, warm the next. If you're planting before your last frost date, choose plants that will tolerate a light frost (see below for a checklist of cool-season bloomers).

The Home Depot carries a wide variety of cool-season flowers, so check your local store for availability as selection varies. Hold off planting tender annuals, such as basil, dahlia and zinnia, until after your last frost date.
Cluster smaller containers of flowers together in uneven numbers for visual interest

4. Choose the right containers

The two main factors to consider when picking a container are:

Size

  • You don't need to spend a lot to fill a big space—opt for one or two large containers, each planted with a single shrub that cuts an elegant and dramatic profile.
  • Cluster smaller containers together in uneven numbers for visual interest. Stack a few on upended terracotta pots to create an arrangement of various heights.
  • Bigger pots are easier to care for because large volumes of soil retain moisture longer so you can water them less frequently.


You'll find an enormous range of containers in-store, including moss-filled hanging baskets, deck rail planters, window boxes, and pots and urns of all shapes, sizes and colours.

Material

  • Unglazed clay and terracotta pots are the most economical choice, but the porous material dries out quickly, so be sure to water plants more often. Use these pots for plants that require excellent drainage such as sedum and other succulents like rosemary and thyme.
  • Glazed ceramic pots retain moisture better but they're also fragile and need to be moved indoors in colder temperatures.
  • For large pots, opt for high-density resin containers that are lightweight and resistant to chips and cracks. The Home Depot also carries containers made from a blend of resin and natural stone for a rustic look that's lighter and more affordable than traditional stone urns.
Fill containers with a quality brand soil

5. Start plants off right

Don't reuse last year's soil for your containers. Try filling containers with a quality brand soil like Miracle-Gro, which holds 33 percent more water than ordinary soils and releases it to the roots as needed.

  • Pour or scoop soil around the roots of your plant to the top of the pot, but don't pat it down. Add water to settle the soil so it's no more than an inch below the rim.
  • Slow-release fertilizer gives newly potted plants all the nutrients they need to get established in their first month.
  • A thin top layer of mulch fends off weeds and helps soil retain moisture.
  • Some plants, including basil and zinnia, are especially sensitive to cold. Bring them into a warm area if temperatures are expected to drop below 7°C.


Some striking colour combinations

  • Fescue, snapdragon, petunia and alyssum
  • Sage, primrose and lobelia
  • Rosemary, verbena, dianthus and violets
  • Ribbon grass, columbine and violaceae


A checklist of cool-season flowers that thrive in all regions in early spring:

  • Candytuft: hardy, compact and low-growing with pink or purple flowers in spring
  • Pansy: compact plants with rich green foliage and small blooms bred in a rainbow of colours
  • Petunia: clumps of trumpet-shaped blooms bred in a range of colours
  • Snapdragon: flowers shaped like a dragon's mouth that attract butterflies and hummingbirds to the garden
  • Alyssum: extremely compact, low-growing tiny flowers
  • Verbena: fragrant flowers that are exceptionally drought and heat tolerant


Be sure to check out our Plant Library for more details on plant varieties, including bloom time, features and care instructions.

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